Protesting during a Pandemic: (NYC COVID-19 at 100 Days) From rigid shelter-in-place physical distancing practices to marching across the Brooklyn Bridge, masked and amongst thousands of other masked protestors, the changes in our daily lives, especially living in New York… it is hard to even put into words… But when I read Molly Fischer’s closing lines in her New York magazine piece, this was pretty accurate: “Lockdown did not end in tentative steps outdoors; lockdown ended when the marching began. The protests that followed George Floyd’s death represented a sweeping embrace of the first-person plural in all that it might grow to hold. Collective purpose had kept the streets empty, and now if filled them. We were learning what we could do.”


“Listen to Black Women” crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with the Juneteenth Break the Chains With Love March. 6/19/20 Photo by Michael Sylvan Robinson

Day 100 6/19/20 Juneteenth. 6,000 + march in Break The Chains With Love March organized by queer Black women and led by the inspiring Valarie Walker included members of the Revolting Lesbians, Rise and Resist, the Reclaim Pride Coalition, Gays Against Guns, and other activists. It was wonderful to see so many friends. We held the intersection until the way was cleared, and then we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun set, and then gathered to remember the ancestors. And there was, as promised, a lot of love. I carried an artful sign in remembrance of 11 of the Black trans people killed by gun violence in just a little over a year. Claire Legato 5/14/19. Muhlaysia Booker 5/18/19. Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington 5/19/19. Paris Cameron 5/25/19. Zoe Spears 6/13/19. Bailey Reeves 9/2/19. Itali Marlowe 9/20/19. Brianna ‘BB’ Hill 10/14/19. Monika Diamond 3/18/20. Tony McDade 3/27/20. Riah Milton 6/9/20.


Vogue magazine article by Emma Specter about the Break The Chains With Love March included stunning photographs form the march by Ian Reid including this one of me with Don Shewey. I’m carrying a sign in remembrance of 11 of the Black trans people killed by gun violence in just a little over one year. #honorthemwithaction #inremembrance

Day 87 6/6/20 My first time walking across the Brooklyn Bridge was a protest march with 15,000 protestors marching for Black Lives Matter. After almost three months of physical distancing and almost no contact beyond my household, I stepped out on the streets because we have to be. I did not see a single participant without a mask on, and everyone was extremely careful and caring as we crossed the challenging tight pedestrian walkway of the bridge. The only people I saw not wearing masks were the police officers despite the fact that masks are required.

Day 93 6/12/20 I held space with Gays Against Guns in a silent vigil for those killed in the Pulse mass shooting four years ago. In preparation for our memorial I’d developed five longer profiles of 49 killed individuals (primarily Black + Latinx LGBTQ+ people) for the GAG Human Beings page on FB, where we honor and remember the lives of those killed by gun violence. Standing in line, veiled and dressed in all-white for the vigil, I realized the stack of placards I was holding to represent in the Human Beings work included “randomly” four out of the five people I’d spent week learning more about, trying to share who they were and how their loss impacted families and friends. As the names were read, I held both photos of a couple killed that night, boyfriends Juan Ramon Guerro, 22 years old, and Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, 32 years old, myself a newly wed Queer man, remembering their love for each other. I also held space for Kimberly “KJ” Morris, 37 years old, and Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old, and whose lives and contributions to the world I’d learned more about in developing the remembrance pieces. The activism of Gays Against Guns arose in the days following the Pulse massacre, and I watched from my previous home in Baltimore knowing this queer activism called to me, and when I moved back to Brooklyn I became an active GAG member. It was an emotional and important night to be standing at Stonewall with these activists in this ongoing work!

Day 95 6/14/20 At the Brooklyn Liberation: An Action for Black Trans Lives attended by 15,000+ on an historic day, I carried my sign in remembrance of 11 of the Black Trans people killed by gun violence over the last year including Riah Milton just this past week. I wore my mask, as was pretty much everyone else.  After walking the edges of the massive number of protestors gathered in front of the Brooklyn Museum, I found myself atop a barricade with my sign high over my head, speaking their names with the best I could offer in remembrance: Claire Legato. Muhlaysia Booker. Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington. Paris Cameron. Zoe Spears. Bailey Reeves. Itali Marlowe. Brianna ‘BB’ Hill. Monika Diamond. Tony McDade. Riah Milton. 


Day 99 6/18/20 I’m reminded of the recovery practice of “counting days” as one adjusts to the unimaginable life changes of living without active addiction.  In some recovery meetings, newcomers “count days” as a way of marking the “days of sobriety” one-day-a-time in their first 90 days . When I broke my ankle five years ago, and would reference the number of days “since” well-meaning friends cautioned “letting it go” or “moving on” from such a practice that in many ways, helped me acknowledge how different my life felt from the just a short time past, from the days before the accident. For years I’ve counted my daily walking practice, writing the mileage of my walking time in my journal alongside the number of days (almost 4,500 miles at 1,643 days). I started walking as a major relationship ended, and I walked to return to embodiment, to mindfulness, to my own presence in the midst of grief and longing and loss, and as those one-day-at-a-times turned into seasons and years, so the change of loving again, and moving back to Brooklyn, and building a life together also met with evening walks at the end of the work day, and special days of walking together in places I’d never hoped I would visit; and the daily walking of the first months of the pandemic, masked and fearful in the empty Brooklyn streets and the then ever-present soundscape of sirens.

From the first day of working at home, I started keeping track of the days; initially, I’d caption each photo on instagram beginning with Day ___ and write in my journal with brief recognition of tracing the experiences of the radically transformative (and traumatic) times in which I am trying to work, love, make art, and care for a community of loved ones and the wider circles that connect us all together across the boundaries of states and counties right now. Today, the first day without end of the year meetings, a swiss-cheese hole of space without being on zoom all day, but still trying to complete tasks. Ahead this summer, intense managerial responsibilities as we develop plans for a return to school in September. 100 days ago we left campus for what I’d imagined would be a short cautionary period away – oh, dear ones, these days we’ve weathered, struggled and grown through, so historic/terrible/inspiring/heartbreaking. I know I am exhausted and awe-struck.